A 'momentous' day: Detroit selected to host NFL Draft for first time in 2024

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Palm Beach, Fla. — The NFL Draft is coming to Detroit.

After pushing to land the event the past several years, the city has been awarded hosting rights for the 2024 edition. The announcement came Monday at the NFL's annual league meeting.

"The draft has become a prominent offseason event across the country, and we are excited to work with the Lions and their partners to bring the 2024 NFL Draft to the Motor City," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "With the help of Visit Detroit, the Detroit Sports Commission, and the city of Detroit, the Lions passionate fan base and all visitors will be treated to an incredible three-day experience." 

The NFL announced Monday that Detroit will host the 2024 NFL Draft, marking the first time the city has been the site of the event.

Traditionally, the draft is held during one of the final two weeks in April. While the dates for 2024 haven’t been finalized, the intention is for the main staging to be housed in Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza, although team president Rod Wood said the bid was centered around making it a citywide celebration.  

“We'll be using a lot of the venues in downtown, including the Fox Theatre will be part of it, Hart Plaza will be part of it,” Wood said. “Hopefully we'll have some music events at Ford Field and maybe even Little Caesars (Arena), so it will be throughout the whole city.” 

Lions president and CEO Rod Wood, right, and principal owner and chair Sheila Ford Hamp answer questions from journalists after the NFL awarded the 2024 draft to Detroit during the NFL owner's meeting on Monday at The Breakers resort in Palm Beach, Fla.

Held in New York City from 1965-2014, the league opted to make the draft a traveling event after outgrowing Radio City Music Hall. After a two-year stint in Chicago, the draft has since been held in Philadelphia (2017), Dallas (2018), Nashville (2019) and Cleveland (2021). This year's draft will originate from Las Vegas, which was supposed to host in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to be held virtually. Kansas City is slated to host in 2023. 

Wood initially expressed public interest in bringing the NFL Draft to Detroit in 2017. Realizing the long odds of landing the opportunity to host another Super Bowl, the draft was the next logical target.  

“I think it’s unlikely — I’ll never say never — that we’ll have another chance for a Super Bowl,” Wood said. “But the draft has become maybe the next biggest event that the league puts on, and so once the draft started moving around and was so successful in other markets, it became something that we really focused on. So happy that it’s finally happened, and hopefully we’ll put on a good enough show that maybe they will consider us for a Super Bowl again.” 

Also a finalist for the 2022 draft, Detroit beat out the other contenders for 2024 hosting duties, Green Bay and Washington D.C. Wood said it was too early to project attendance or economic impact, only expressing hope of luring huge crowds to the city for the three-day weekend.  

“We’re close to most of the NFL cities, close to a lot of the college teams,” Wood said. “The draft is kind of the intersection between college football and pro football, so I think there’ll be a lot of people traveling because it’s going to be easy to get to Detroit. I’m hoping it’s going to rival what you’ve seen in some other cities, hundreds of thousands of people.” 

As part of the event, the NFL Draft Experience — the league’s interactive football theme park — will provide participatory games, interactive exhibits, musical performances, and autograph sessions for fans, who will also be able take pictures with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It will be free and open all three days of the event. 

"Today is momentous for our city," Dave Beachnau, executive director of the Detroit Sports Commission, said in a statement. "Hosting the NFL Draft in Detroit promises to be a celebration of our community's spirit. It will deliver high value for our residents, businesses, and the great fans who make Detroit the best sports city in America." 

In the more immediate future, the Detroit Sports Commission, in partnership with the Lions, will host a free football-themed community event for fans of all ages on Thursday, April 14 at Campus Martius Park to celebrate being named the 2024 host. More information on the celebration will be announced in the coming days.

“Very excited about showing off the city for millions of reasons,” Lions owner Sheila Hamp said. “It’s been a city that’s sometimes overlooked or disparaged for certain reasons, but we all know better, those of us that are there. All the wonderful things that are happening there. So we’re very excited to show the world what we’re all about.

"As I said in the room when I thanked the ownership for voting for us, I promise we will put on a wonderful show and 2024 is going to be a great draft.” 


Twitter: @Justin_Rogers